Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. ...Hippocrates

List of Foods (with High Phytosterol) That Help Lower Cholesterol

Plant sterols, phytosterols, are cholesterol-like compounds that are found mostly in vegetable oils, nuts and legumes. There are about 44 sterols known to exist in plants. The most abundant phytosterols are, however, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. Phytosterols are not produced in the body. Thus, their sole source is diet.

Phytosterols have the same function as cholesterol in the body. The advantage of phytosterols is that they don't have the side effects associated with high cholesterol foods. Plant-based diet rich in phytosterols is known to reduce serum total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL), 'bad', cholesterol. In contrast, animal-based diet (meat, egg etc.) contributes to elevated serum cholesterol level. For example, one study found that subjects fed with wheat germ containing high phytosterol had 42% lower cholesterol in their blood as compared to those who were fed phytosterol-free wheat germ.

Phytosterols help reduce serum cholesterol, possibly, by enhancing excretion of cholesterol, interfering with cholesterol synthesis, and competing for cholesterol acceptor sites in the intestinal walls.

Some animal studies have also shown that phytosterols inhibit or slow down tumor development.

A conventional Western diet provides 250 mg/day of phytosterol, on average. Whereas a vegetarian diet provides 2 times of that.

For children, older than 2 years, with history of high blood cholesterol in their families, up to 2 grams of phytosterols per day is recommended by an Expert Panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents.

Generally, the highest phytosterol content is found in plant oils and to a lesser extent in vegetables and fruits. In the following table is a list of foods high and low in phytosterols. The phytosterol content is the sum of beta sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol.

Phytosterol food sources Total phytosterol content (mg/100g)
Oils
Rice bran
1055
Corn
952
Wheat germ
553
Flax seed
338
Cottonseed
327
Soybean
221
Peanut
206
Olive
176
Coconut
91
Palm
49
Vegetables
Beet root
25
Brussels sprout
24
Cauliflower
18
Onion
15
Carrot
12
Cabbage
11
Yam
10
Fruits
Orange
24
Banana
16
Apple
12
Cherry
12
Peach
10
Pear
8

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